Syria civil war: Lebanon's refugee count passes one million

 

The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has surpassed 1 million, the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday, calling it a “devastating milestone” for the tiny Arab country with about 4.5 million people of its own.

Also, three years after Syria's conflict started, Lebanon has become the country with the highest per-capita concentration of refugees recorded anywhere in the world in recent history, the UNHCR said.

As a result, Lebanon is struggling to cope with a massive crisis that has become an unprecedented challenge for aid agencies, UNHCR said.

Along with the social and economic strain of the refugees, Syria's sectarian war has also frequently spilled over into Lebanon with deadly clashes between factions supporting opposing sides in the fighting next door.

Militants from Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah are fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria while many among Lebanon's Sunni population support the rebels trying to topple him.

The 1 million Syrians are a huge burden for Lebanon, which has a 4.5 million-strong population, the UNHCR said. The agency registers 2,500 new Syrian refugees daily in Lebanon — more than one person per minute.

In addition to the registered refugees, there are tens of thousands of other Syrian refugees who are not registered and Lebanese officials estimate the number of unregistered refugees to be as high as 400,000.

The 1 millionth refugee was registered in the northern city of Tripoli on Thursday, and only accepted to give his first name, Yahya, concerned that his relatives back in Syria would be targeted.

The 19-year-old man said he was evacuated earlier this year from the central city of Homs and crossed into Lebanon with his mother and two sisters on March 8.

“The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering,” said Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement. “Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history.”

UNHCR said the influx is accelerating.

In April 2012, there were 18,000 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon and by April 2013 they reached 356,000 and at the beginning of April this year they reached, 1 million.

The World Bank estimates that the Syria crisis cost Lebanon US$2.5 billion in lost economic activity during 2013 and threatens to push 170,000 Lebanese into poverty by the end of this year, the UNHCR statement said.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy